KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Reviews Highlight Harmful Prescriptions And Unnecessary Surgeries

ProPublica takes a look at a Medicare drug program report detailing the prescription writing practices of some physicians while USA Today reports on its findings regarding unnecessary surgeries based on a review of government records and medical databases.

ProPublica/The Washington Post: Report: 700 Doctors Wrote Possibly Harmful Medicare Prescriptions
More than 700 doctors nationwide wrote prescriptions for elderly and disabled patients in highly questionable and potentially harmful ways, according to a report of Medicare’s drug program released Thursday. The review by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services flags those doctors as “very extreme” in their prescribing and says Medicare should do more to investigate or stop them (Weber, Ornstein and LaFleur, 6/20).

USA Today: Doctors Perform Thousands Of Unnecessary Surgeries
Tens of thousands of times each year, patients are wheeled into the nation's operating rooms for surgery that isn't necessary, a USA TODAY review of government records and medical databases finds. Some, such as Stelly, fall victim to predators who enrich themselves by bilking insurers for operations that are not medically justified. Even more turn to doctors who simply lack the competence or training to recognize when a surgical procedure can be avoided, either because the medical facts don't warrant it or because there are non-surgical treatments that would better serve the patient (Eisler and Hansen, 6/20).

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